After a brief hiatus, the Institute for Sustainable Solutions has brought back the sustainability generator—a forum where students and community members alike present ideas for projects that work toward the overarching goal of increasing sustainability.
Institute for Sustainable Solutions hosting solutions generator
After a brief hiatus, the Institute for Sustainable Solutions has brought back the sustainability generator—a forum where students and community members alike present ideas for projects that work toward the overarching goal of increasing sustainability. Successful proposals earn $10,000 toward putting the idea into practice.
This year, the roughly 31 submissions included a “ZipCar” system for bicycles, a farm partnership with Portland State, an Earth Day festival and a program to “take back the tap,” designed to discontinue the sale of water bottles at PSU by installing more self-filling water stations on campus.
Daniel Garcia, a freshman in the sustainability inquiry, and his team want to eliminate urban emissions by creating a bicycle program where students can rent bicycles, much like the ZipCar program. If their proposal is chosen, they hope that it eventually turns into a PSU-managed system.
“It seems like a reasonable and possible solution to happen,” Garcia said.
Three years ago, PSU received the largest grant in its history that made programs like the solutions generator possible. The challenge grant, $25 million from the Miller Foundation, was set up for sustainability research and education. The grant was given to PSU to make a significant impact on the state, and the administration chose to put it toward sustainability.
The $25 million from the grant is scheduled to be used over 10 years, with $2.5 million per year coming from the grant, and $2.5 million coming from PSU.
The ISS offered undergraduate awards in lieu of the solutions generator last year.
“The first year [of the solutions generator] was a pilot, and there was so much administrative work, [it was] unexpected how much participation there would be,” Sustainability and Outreach Coordinator Heather Spalding said. “This year we were at capacity again to try it, and we felt it could really bring people together and be effective.”
A committee of students, staff and faculty will determine which proposals will be selected. However, there will be a small preference for on-campus projects as well as those that invest in PSU.
“This is a good time to be investing in the campus,” Spalding said. “There were a lot of great projects not affiliated with PSU that still have a great chance to be funded.”
Stephanie Stettler, a graduate student at PSU, hopes her proposal is accepted. She is working to make an Earth Day festival to help bring together the ideas of sustainability.
“Festivals are a good way to build community solidarity, sharing bonds that wouldn’t have been shared otherwise,” she said.
Spalding, like the participants, is thrilled about the opportunity for increased sustainability.
“I am so excited about the generator because I know there are fantastic ideas out there,” she said. “PSU is a special place; we have so many talented people coming to study and learn here, and this just gives people a chance to have more investment in their campus. The best way to learn is by putting something into practice.”
There will be a larger generator in November 2011 with greater capacity to support the projects, according to Spalding. ?